Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

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vofbassist
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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by vofbassist » April 22nd, 2009, 9:04 pm

Some states actually do that in a way. Since it is required to post a list of the required/supplied materials, some of the event supervisors will post their mystery material in that, not stating that it is the mystery material though. Or so I've heared... I think. I can't remember anymore, just like I can't remember if it's required to list the supplied materials. We didn't deal with them in Wisconsin, or atleast in my region, so I'm not sure. Either way, half the fun is figuring that stuff out on the spot rather than planning ahead of time. Or that's my thoughts on it, anyway.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by sachleen » April 22nd, 2009, 9:11 pm

At the state competition, we totally weren't prepared to make a scale, lacking some very important pieces (water). I scrambled through the box to find some way to make a decent scale. I ended up making it using a bunch of tubes/water bottles. (see the images) This got us 11th place (we had no time to test/calibrate it). Tier 3 because it tipped over and I had to touch it to pick it back up... and the estimated mass was about 30g off of the actual mass.

Now that I reflect back on the situation, I think, with the limitations we faced, we did a great job. Sure it was our fault and stuff for not being prepared, but being able to take a box of random junk and making a scale out of it on the spot, when other teams knew exactly what they were doing, we didn't do too bad.

I really like the idea of the event sup providing a box load of materials (same for everyone) and having them do a certain task with them. The task or possible tasks should be explained in the rules so the students can actually try to do something for the event instead of just walking blindly into it. This would require some creativity from the judges however because they would have to choose the materials that would make it possible in multiple ways to complete the certain task.

Some down sides to the idea are that you can't really prepare for something like this. I thought the same thing for JYC this year but figured out universal ways to include just about any mystery material into the device. If the judges provide the materials however, you really wouldn't be able to prepare for it and the quality of the products wouldn't be as great.

I don't know what some of the old events were about, so maybe I'm just missing something, but I'd really like to see an event where you have to really think on the spot and build something with provided materials.


EDIT: vofbassist, I think our region posted a list of possible materials, but I ignored that and tried to create a flaw in the device such that any material could fix it. For the scale at regionals, we could either put the MO along with the weight (if you take out the MO, the scale gives false readings) or, since we had a container to contain any spillage of the water, we could put the material on the bottom of the container to make it un-level. On the opposite side of the container, we used knex sticks taped together to make it level again. This way, no matter what the material was, if it was somewhat heavy, we could easily use it as an extra weight and calibrate the scale that way or if it was light, we could use it to make the device un-level.

At regionals, the MO was a CD, so I just stuck it on the side of the container and put knex sticks on the bottom to make it level again, at state, it was a chalk egg, so we used that as a mass added on to the actual object to offset the calibration if removed.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by vofbassist » April 23rd, 2009, 6:39 am

That's a good idea. We used a spring scale that was placed on top of a tripod. One of our clips to hold the leg up broke, so we would tape our mystery our mystery material under the clip to hold it up. We weren't able to do that at state for the object was a paper clip. Instead, my partner and I replaced the guitar pick we had as a pointer with it. That was acceptable because it would have made our device less accurate without it.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by Flavorflav » April 23rd, 2009, 7:12 am

I would like to echo and endorse what Bob said above, and to add that if JYC is to return, it would be best if there were some significant modifications to the rules. It seems quite likely that between the base rules and the challenge-specific rules, JYC has the most complicated rules of any SciO event, ever. This no doubt has contributed to the large number of judging issues. The concept of the event is intriguing, but I do think the execution has to be simplified, and I do not think that simplification need destroy the spirit of the event. For example, while I understand the motive dividing materials into different categories ("required," "Mystery" etc.), their presence requires the inclusion of a whole section of legalistic definitions; simplifying the materials section would go a long way to simplifying the event. More centrally, while the primary score for the various challenges must needs vary, there is no reason I can think of which would prevent all secondary scoring to be common - i.e., second tier for a touch, ties broken by time then weight etc. Making these and similar changes could allow you to roll the challenge descriptions into the base rules, thus eliminating the need for separate documents. Personally, I did not find the requirement to go get a supplemental set of rules that onerous, but from what I have heard and seen it seems to have created the opportunity for error.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by wlsguy » April 23rd, 2009, 7:53 am

When JYC was run as a trial event (at OSU), it was significantly different. Most noticeably, the 2 possible tasks were announced 1 week before the competition. The final task and some of the details (such as optimum size) were not announced until the day of the competition. This placed the students under an initial time constraint of 1 week with the additional task of on the spot modification. The students learned how to design, build, and test under pressures of time and gave most of the teams an equal playing field regardless of the amount of money they have.

The rules for this year made the event a modified Mission Possible with the most successful teams being the ones with the most access to resources and who had the time to prepare. Our team was among those who spent considerable time working through all of the possibilites to come up with a good design. This is the same approach used for Tractory, Wright Stuff, Bridges, electric vehicle, and the other building events. At the competition these devices either work correctly or they do not. They have little oppertunity for quick thinking and "emergency engineering"

I feel that the "on the spot" engineering and problem solving is one of the lacking areas of Science Olympiad. These skills are invaluable and are difficult to teach except through practice. Many other events (electric vehicle, wright stuff, bridges, etc) already address the skill of creating a good plan and following it for optimum success.

My hope is that JYC moves away from the pre-planned "mission possible" format and moves toward the "on the spot" problem solving format. I'm sure the future NASA astronauts will appreciate these skills if they ever have trouble like Apollo 13.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by Flavorflav » April 28th, 2009, 6:55 am

I actually like that idea as well. Right now it's neither fish nor fowl, and should move in one direction or the other.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by chemguy » May 2nd, 2009, 7:30 am

While I agree with you that being able to save Apollo 13 is cool and incredibly dramatic, the other 99% of science and engineering that we all prepare for is based on the analysis of our last work and planning for our next.

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Re: Next Year's Junkyard Challenge

Post by anon y mouse » May 2nd, 2009, 10:55 am

I like the way that junkyard is set up this year. Though I would like to see some scoring and rules simplification, the event is great as is. Many of you have cited mystery object implementation as a problem. Perhaps judges at your competitions had a hard time, but to me, it is a fairly easy question to answer, "without this object, would your device function as well?" Junkyard provides a good mix of preparation (knowing the tasks ahead of time, and practicing with your device), efficiency (both devices required to fit in box), and critical thinking (mystery object implementation). I like this event more than Mission or Mystery Architecture - it takes some of the best of both, while adding new elements. Flavorflav - why does this event need to be either fish or fowl? I'm happy with jyc as the platypus it is.

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